I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now. I read posts about girls who are just beginning recovery or who are struggling and my heart aches for them. Because it sucks and it is horrible and sometimes recovery is not rainbows and unicorns: it is tears and fear and a mess of thoughts that you can’t figure out. This letter is for you. Whether you have just embarked on this journey of recovery or are struggling, this is for you. This is the letter to me; to the me almost a year ago who was scared, sad, and feeling so alone. It is raw and honest and sometimes hopeful. It what I wanted somebody to tell me.
I realize that everyone has different fears and thoughts going into recovery. Everyone has different demons to deal with. But everyone has fear and everyone needs hope that yes, it will get better. That no, recovery isn’t perfect but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
So, here it is. A letter to myself.
Right now, you are unsure about recovery. Scared. So many thoughts run through your head, so many what ifs. Some moments you feel so ready to recover. You imagine how it would feel to be free from thoughts of food and your body and numbers. You challenge yourself only to have the thoughts get too loud and you come running back to safety and for a while, you feel so numb and exhausted that you forget there even is a world outside of your eating disorder.
But there is. And there are days now where I don’t think about food or numbers at all. Today I played Monopoly and I was able to focus and laugh. Yes, really laugh. And than there are days I want to crawl out of my skin because the hateful voice gets too loud. But I still eat and relax and sometimes I cry and yell and feel so much I don’t know what to do. And then it passes and I’m okay…and Eds nowhere in sight.
I’m going to be real with you. Recovery sucks in the beginning. All. The. Time. You will have to do things that feel counter intuitive. You will have to eat and open up to other people and actually trust your team and not Ed. You will feel full all of the time and get bloated after a small snack and the constipation thing is gonna happen. You are going to have breakdowns in therapy and on the phone and you will hear the words assertive and vulnerability about a billion times.
And don’t start with the whole I don’t need that much food. And I honestly don’t like chocolate or pizza…
Yes, you do need “that much food.” And you love chocolate and pizza and (fill in the blank.)
And please, stop saying you’ll start tomorrow. You won’t. Stop trying to find the perfect way to recover because there isn’t one. Don’t let Ed tell you your not sick enough or it’s not that bad. There is no such thing as “sick enough” or bad enough for Ed.
And some advice: Ask for help when you need it even when you feel like a “bother.” You can’t do it alone. I know you want to be the superhero and be all independent but sometimes the bravest thing to do is to admit that yes, you need support and lots of it. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get better, just that you do get better. So don’t feel guilty when you can’t do it by yourself!
Recovery means you will finally be warm. Your mind will be clearer, you will sleep through the night (most of the time), and eventually your mind will be more than a calculator. There will be more important things than calories and portion sizes. You will still freak out sometimes at restaurants but you will pull your shit together and move on. You will be able to eat fear foods without a second thought, although it will take many times of challenging yourself. The urges will lessen and you will learn to deal with them when they do come.
So eat. Eat the chocolate, the pizza, and whatever else you want. Drink as many ensures and boosts as you have to. The first couple of months will be hell but it does get better, I promise you. No, it won’t be perfect but it gets better. So much better. Just trust me on this one okay? Also tell Ed to shut the f up.
*I feel very vulnerable putting this out there. I was going to post something else today but I want my blog posts to be real and come from the heart and this one definitely does! If it only helps one person, then that is amazing. Even if no one ever reads this, it felt good to put it all on paper (screen?) And if you’ve gotten this far, you are officially incredible. Ha ha.